Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reality of Weight Loss

Hello lovely readers,

Today I feel like talking about a topic I have rather mixed feelings about. The subject is weight loss reality TV shows. Programs such as "Shedding for the Wedding," "The Biggest Loser"and "Weighing In" all turn weight loss into a competition. Now I can't be entirely sure of how things are run on those shows, as I'm clearly not a part of the cast or crew, but I feel like it sends an unhealthy message to the audience and perhaps even the participants.

I applaud the participants for acknowledging their problems and for willingly accepting a change in lifestyle. I get that. However, it seems that these shows encourage fast results, with features such as weekly weigh-ins. They also encourage pushing people to their absolute limits, when in the reality outside of television it's actually much healthier for most overweight individuals, or those just looking to live healthier lifestyles, to take baby steps.

These reality shows seem to say, "Hey, you! Yeah, that's right, Chubby! Get up off the couch and run five miles. Cut out junk food completely, lose ten pounds a week and never look back!"

For some people, a total lifestyle change can happen overnight. Those "some people" would be an extremely small minority. For the rest of us non-superhuman beings looking to knock off a few pounds, that strategy is completely unrealistic and downright discouraging. The people on these shows are looked down upon and made fun of if they backtrack even a tiny bit in their newly reformed lifestyles. Let's be honest here: everyone makes mistakes.

I know some people think these shows encourage viewers to live healthier lifestyles and get up and get moving, and I understand that it can have that effect on some people. I'm entirely guilty of watching "Shedding for the Wedding" while working out. For me, it's kind of a motivator to not let myself go as much as these people have, and that's where I have another problem with the shows.

Though they have willingly put themselves in the spotlight for millions to ridicule them, I think it's unfair for me, and other viewers, to judge them and use them to make me feel better about myself. It's not healthy to use other people's failures to make ourselves feel better about our successes. On the flip side, it's not necessarily healthy to follow their paths of weight loss. It makes us think we can lose weight instantly, and if we don't improve right away, we're failures.

I suppose it's a love/hate relationship I have with these shows, but mostly a hate because the very thing that makes me like them makes them a somewhat cruelly guilty pleasure. I think there are much better motivators out there for weight loss, and much healthier ways of achieving it. I do appreciate the workout DVDs that have spun off the shows, but that's an entirely different category of media.

So there you go; those are my feelings on reality television weight loss programs.

What are your opinions on these shows?

To the best you, the healthy way.


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